Take: GM’s EV acquisition, Cruise, is now valued up to $30 billion. Microsoft is not only one of the investors, but also a partner. As autonomous vehicle companies require immense cloud resources to scale to the public, this partnership is timely for Cruise. The company already announced that it will use Azure for their ride-hailing services.
Take: While WhatsApp officials have indicated that there are “no changes to their data sharing with Facebook”, updating its terms to “make clarifications and provide greater transparency” for the users regarding data policies frightened users around the world. During the first weeks of the update, an alternative company, Signal, has gained over 7.5 million new users.
Take: On January 8th, Former U.S. President Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter due to the tweets he sent during the insurrection in Washington D.C. Following Twitter, 17 tech companies took actions against Trump from YouTube to TikTok.
Take: Visa recently announced their acquisition of the financial services API startup
Plaid, for $5.3 billion. Yet, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to block the deal, reasoning that the deal would “eliminate competition”. Result: Both sides backed off. While DoJ acted in the interest of customers, fin-tech start-ups took a hit as their exit valuations will fall, alerting VCs and investors.
Take: One of Alphabet’s moonshots, a 2.5 year old spin-off called Loon, is closed off given the company failed to create a sustainable business model. Loon was working on beaming high speed internet to remote areas through balloons. Amazon and Tesla have made colossal investments. Loon could possibly be the aftermath of the increasing race in satellite technologies.
Take: Walmart, a brick and mortar retailer on its digital transformation journey, is the trusted partner when it comes to shopping and financing. To expand its offerings, Walmart has partnered with Ribbit Capital to create a fin-tech start-up. A similar move came from the East as ByteDance launched its own payment system.
Take: For a long time, old tech devices and what to do with them created significant pollution problems. During its CES kick-off press conference, Samsung revealed its new project to repurpose old Galaxy devices as IoT devices. These projects certainly contribute to sustainability goals and democratizes IoT and educates people about the emerging technology.
Take: A coalition between tech giants and Mayo Clinic has formed to develop a technology that enables individuals to securely store their immunization records in a digital wallet application. The Vaccination Credential Initiative anticipates that governments, borders, agencies, and airlines demand for vaccination proof is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Take: Apple recently announced its aims to have an Apple Electric Vehicle in the market by 2022. Moreover, rumours circulated that Hyundai and Apple were in conversation around a partnership. These rumors were refuted shortly by Apple as the company values discretion. However, that did not stop the stock market’s reaction. Hyundai stocks climbed more than %20 while several other OEMs took a fall.
Take: Joby is one of the leading names in the eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft) market and is expected to deploy its air taxis as early as 2023. The company recently took over Uber’s air taxi attempt, Elevate, as well. Their IPO intentions could be due to recent announcements from several OEMs, like General Motors, of their own attempts in aerial mobility.
Digitopia’s Final Take:
Investments in digital continue to abound this month as striking numbers show there is no sign of a slowdown. If stock market anxiety isn’t your thing, how about privacy and transparency concerns? As the world becomes fully digital, it’s inevitable to run into complications during the transition. The more digitally mature you become, the less likely you’ll be to hit those bumps in the road.
There is power in social media when we see that the simple ban of a world leader can fill users with a sense of relief. For our friends in the financial sector, fin-tech is having its 15 minutes of fame as concern for monopoly rises.
The digital world proves to be concerned about sustainability, which for Digitopia is the only way forward, and we are very happy to see old devices up-cycled.
Only time will tell how digital will affect the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, stay tuned next month for our updates.